It figures that news like this would drop at 6:00 on Friday evening. The NCAA announced today that after further investigation, they've determined that there's no evidence that the wrongdoing at Ohio State went any higher than Jim Tressel. Furthermore, despite the Sports Illustrated report specifically accusing nine additional players of receiving improper benefits from Eddie Rife, investigators could only find evidence to implicate one of them. As a result, no additional charges have been added to the original notice of allegations, which itself did not charge Ohio State with Lack of Institutional Control or Failure to monitor.
So, after all the hysteria of the past few months over Ohio State's cheating, what justice can we actually expect to see meted out in the end? Wins will be vacated as far back as there is evidence against Pryor (or perhaps some other ineligible player), but that's a pretty hollow punishment. The program might end up on probation for longer than the 2 years Ohio State has self-imposed, but that too lacks any real teeth. If that is the extent of Ohio State's punishment, the school will still remember the Tressel years with unconditional fondness, thereby approving the program's misconduct, and neutralizing any deterrent effect these penalties were meant to have.
As fans, we're angry at OSU for cheating, and so to some degree we want to see retributive justice. But that's not the NCAA's purpose for handing out punishment. Especially considering the current climate in college football, where a staggering number of high-profile programs are under investigation (with several others already recently punished), the NCAA's primary objective has to be deterrence. Right now, there are obviously plenty of programs who think cheating is worthwhile. If the NCAA wants to change that attitude--and I certainly hope they do--they need to make the punishments for cheating too severe to risk, and they need to start with their most high-profile case--Ohio State.